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The Sustainable Innovation Fund: Round 2 (de minimis)


UK-registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £26million for new projects focusing on sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19. This funding is from Innovate UK.

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £26million to fund single and collaborative research and development projects as part of The Sustainable Innovation Fund.

The aim of this competition is to help all sectors of the UK rebuild after the effects of COVID-19.

All projects must be led by a business. Proposals can only be from a single business.

This competition is round two of a potential three.

  • Round 2 – De Minimis (this competition)
  • Round 3 – Temporary Framework (opening September 2020)

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £50,000 and £100,000.

Open Date:


Close Date:


COVID-19 has affected R&D across all sectors, and the aim with this competition is to help all sectors of the UK recover, grow, and create new opportunities from the aftermath of the global health pandemic.

Your proposal must show evidence of key challenges as a direct consequence of COVID-19, and how your project can help solve them.

You must consider your proposal’s impact on climate change and/or environmental sustainability.

Innovate UK would also like you to address where necessary, equality, diversity, and inclusion in relation to your project, your organisation(s) and your approach to innovation.

Innovate UK will fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, regions, technological maturities and research categories, including the themes listed below.

Specific themes
Your project can also focus on:
  • Decarbonisation, circular economy and/or biodiversity
  • Climate change and environmental sustainability
  • Geographic or regionally targeted innovation
  • innovation that is aimed at commercial or residential users
  • Innovations that work across more than one sector
  • Follow-on international opportunities that help the UK lead the world

The funding will be made as a de minimis grant. All applicants for a de minimis award must complete and provide to Innovate UK a de minimis declaration. This states any and all de minimis awards (from any source of public funding) during the current and previous two fiscal years.

Agriculture, fisheries and road transport sectors

Innovate UK provides research, development and innovation funding opportunities within the agriculture and fisheries sectors through other forms of aid. However, Innovate UK will not fund the following through de minimis.

  • Aid subsidising any primary production within fishery and aquaculture sectors
  • Aid subsidising any primary production of agricultural products

De minimis aid cannot be used for costs associated with:

  • Export-related activities towards third countries or member states, namely aid directly linked to the quantities exported, to the establishment and operation of a distribution network or to other current expenditure linked to the export activity
  • Activities that favour domestic goods over imports
  • Activities related to purchasing of road freight transport. For any other activity which involves hire or reward in the road freight transport sector, aid is limited to 100,000 euros over three fiscal (tax) years

Your project must:

  • Have total eligible costs between £50,000 and £100,000
  • Be ready to start by 1 November 2020
  • Last between three and six months

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Be able to carry out project work under the current restrictions of COVID-19
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) cannot lead or work alone but can be subcontractors.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition provided the work is procured through an open and transparent public tender. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK. Where subcontractors are non-UK based, please justify why you are unable to use a UK alternative. Innovate UK would expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

A business can only submit one application in this competition.

Innovate UK have allocated up to £26million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

You can receive funding of 100% of your total eligible project costs, up to £100,000.

Innovate UK will provide up to £50,000 to each grant-claiming organisation as an advance on grant payment 10 working days after the return of a fully-signed grant offer letter. This will be taken off the first and any subsequent claims.

De minimis

In order to minimise distortion of competition, the European Commission sets limits on how much assistance can be given without its prior approval, to organisations operating in a competitive market. There is a ceiling of €200,000 for all de minimis aid provided to any one organisation over a three fiscal year period.

You need to declare any de minimis aid awarded to any other public funding body which requests it. You must also keep all documentation associated with the award for 10 years from the date the award is granted.

Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • Are not related to an impact on a business due to Covid-19 disruption
  • Have a negative impact on the environment and/or society
  • Have a detrimental effect on equality, diversity, and inclusion
  • Would duplicate other UK Government activities or EU-funded initiatives already under way, such as the testing or manufacture of vaccines and ventilators
  • Do not involve any research and development or innovation, for example, the creation of information-only websites
  • Are feasibility studies
  • Involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • Involve primary production in agriculture
  • Are not allowed under de minimis regulation restrictions

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.